There’s a lot that newspaper articles will say about the facts of what happened to my mom at the Ardmore apartments once ownership had transferred to Donald Sterling. However, court documents would also act as the legal record holder of testimonies related to personal accounts of his penchant for operating his real estate business with discriminatory housing practices. And, since my mom would not be able to walk into the courtroom and speak for herself, it was up to me to do it on her behalf.
But, I wasn’t alone. Other voices would come alongside mine to support the Housing Rights Center’s case.
So, on August 1, 2003, the Housing Rights Center v Donald Sterling Corp. case NO. CV 03-859-AHM (EX) went before the District Judge of the United States District Court in California.
During the case, a chief engineer at one of Sterling’s properties, then called the Mark Wilshire Tower Apartments in Los Angeles, now known as the Sterling Ambassador Tower, a 235 unit luxury apartment building with a swimming pool on the roof, shared that the real-estate tycoon directly told him, “I like Korean employees and I like Korean tenants.”
To that end, several of his properties had name changes to reflect this preference. For example, prior to the Wilshire Tower Apartments name change to Sterling Ambassador Tower, its name had been changed to Korean World Towers. Several other properties had this nomenclature in common: such as, the Wilshire Korean Towers, The Sterling Korean Plaza, the Windsor Square Korean Towers, the Fremont Place Korean Plaza, and the Hancock Park Asian Towers.
An on-site manager, testified that following the purchase of the building, Sterling held a meeting with building staff and made it clear that he did not like Hispanic or African-American tenants, preferring to rent to Korean-Americans and that he wanted them to rent only to Korean-Americans. Later, when she spoke to a real-estate agent about a potential client, she was told that she could sign a lease with the applicant only if they were Korean.
There was also court testimony from the head of building security at the Ardmore Apartments that Sterling verbally expressed his dislike of Mexicans as tenants by saying that he doesn’t like Mexican men “because they smoke, drink and just hang around the house.”
At one point, there was court testimony to the fact that Sterling’s wife, Rochelle, had known of her husband’s racist housing policies and that she would perform sham inspections and had at least once posed as a health inspector for the purpose of gaining access to the individual residences in order to record their race.
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